Week 13 – The Bike Fits

BMW-and-Boeing-to-partner-up-on-carbon-fiber-research-including-recyclingIn 1998 I bought my first bike, a Trek 5200. It was, at the time, an extravagant purchase. The bike cost 2500$, (or 3570 in inflation adjusted dollars) which is a lot of money to spend on anything.

But I rode it on the streets during my test ride and fell in love with the smooth experience that is carbon fiber.

At the time carbon was an exotic material. There was a non-trivial amount of discussion about carbon bikes breaking spontaneously.Questions like these were not uncommon:

1998 Trek 5200 OCLV Bike?

I am very interested in buying this bike at a very good price…
Would the carbon frame be viable and stable still today?
I’m very worried that the frame would break down on me while riding.
Also how do the Shimano 600 Ultegra/ Dura Ace parts compare to parts today?

The metal bike manufacturers didn’t explicitly make that claim, but they certainly encouraged that belief.

I remembered my 5200 fondly as this smooth biking machine. And it served me well during my Death Ride where I rode it for 15+ hours.

By 2004, I had started to wonder if I wanted a new bike… I was suffering from Titanium envy. All the cool kids had Titanium bikes, and I wanted a new shiny Titanium bike. And then I did some research on exotic metals and wanted exotic metals…

Because in 2004, I had discovered the downside of carbon frames, the perfectly muted ride. The feeling of riding a wooden bicycle when you rode on smooth roads.

But after the Death Ride I stopped biking seriously, so it seemed like an extravagant purchase that I could not justify.

Fast forward to this year.

As part of my triathlon training I’ve had to get on my bike, again. And the first time was horrible.

I was convinced that something had fundamentally changed with the bike. After 6 years of collecting moth balls, the bike had broken … Because it’s a well-known fact that carbon warps and distorts after 6 years. I mean carbon is the basis of organic materials so of course it’s decomposed!

But I am cheap bastard when it comes to buying things (except laptops that can play games). And I hate spending money, so instead of immediately buying a new bike, I decided to give it some time.

And lo and behold, I’ve discovered a bunch of things

  1. It turns out that spending one hour and 45 minutes on a bike continuously spinning is a lot more strenuous than biking for one hour and 45 minutes on the roads.The lights offer these nice breaks every 5 to 20 minutes. 
  2. It turns out that the carbon doesn’t warp, but your weight and muscles can move the seat post down over time. A simple 15 minute adjustment can fix that.
  3. It turns out that the pedal you stuck onto your shoe in the middle of a bike ride might have been attached incorrectly. Attaching the pedal in the quiet of your garage where you have the time to test and test again results in a much better placement.
  4. It turns out that secondary muscles can be trained and not hurt. Things like your neck and shoulders and hands.
  5. And it turns out that you can learn to sit on your bike so you don’t get numb.

Which means that several weeks into my base building activity, I’ve discovered that the bike fits quite nicely.

Which is a bummer, because I’ve been wanting to buy a new bike for 8 years.

I guess I’ll have to admit that if I buy a new bike it’s not because I have to but because I want to, and I am such a cheap bastard…

But then I read that triathletes use these time trial bikes... And man are time trial bikes these awesome geeky things…

Week 12 – Not letting the dream go bad

Last night I was very sad because some decided to blow up the Boston Marathon targeting amateur athletes who run for the joy of running and their families.

Was going to write something funny and entertaining this week about my training.

Then I was going to write something depressing.

Instead, I am going to say something in defiance of this death and despair. Because in the face of entropy we can only live.

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is what I dream about when I run a fast 10 miles..

Well to the a-holes who blew up Boston, I am still going to dream. And maybe even qualify.

Week 11 – All your base are belong to us

In 2000 a hysterically funny internet meme emerged known as “All your base”. The meme had an incomprehensible translation of a Japanese game set to a techno dance track where the key phrase was “All your base are belong to us”.

Starting with week 10, and ending on week 22, I am involved in another incomprehensible activity called “building your base”.

What the hell is a base?

Seriously go do some research on the topic. You’d think you were looking for information on how to build a nuclear weapon or a fallout shelter in anticipation of the North Korean nuclear war. Or maybe it’s about the opening moves in starcraft.

The phrase is incredibly cryptic and bizarre. But everyone knows what it means. I mean everyone. And the keep talking about it… You feel like this stupid kid in a room full of smart people talking about stuff you have no clue about. So you start going around saying things like: Yeah I am building my base, wondering if you are doing it properly.

Now, I’ll give my coach some credit,, when prompted he offered a rather complete and comprehensive explanation of the topic, breaking it down rather eloquently for me.

And it turns out that its short hand for a very complex process in our bodies…

So let me see if I can explain it English.

To complete an endurance event you need, well, endurance. Acquiring endurance is done through a series of systematic exercises that target your aerobic capacity. Building the base is the phrase the folks in the know use to describe the activities you perform to build up your endurance.

Why we couldn’t just call it build up your endurance? Probably for the same reason we computer people say all sorts of crazy shit…

Week 10 – Life intervened

Real life got in the middle of last week, so I am little late with this weeks post. And I missed my first workout in months.

A couple of things that emerged.

  1. Exercise is an awesome stress reliever. When I am feeling stressed, all I have to do is a few miles on my feet and then I don’t feel so blue.
  2. Exercise is fun. Sometimes life gets so stressful that you don’t have the energy or desire to exercise because it feels wrong to have fun. Exercise is exactly what you should do.

More on Monday.